Mud on the Wall: Brainstorming the Apocalypse (LXXIV)

July 30, 2010

Revelation 12:7-17 is also located in the prelude section (chs. 12-14) before the climactic bowls of wrath judgments (chs. 15-16).  This passage is the front end of Layer I, with chapter 16 being its corresponding mirror image.

Interestingly, there is nothing about “the earth-dwellers” in 12:7-17 (I).  However, that does not mean that there is not plenty going on on the evil side of the aisle.  The Devil gets kicked out of heaven, apparently along with the demons who followed him, and they are cast down to the earth (vv. 7-10).  It is said that, in his “wrath,” he will make the life of those on the earth completely miserable (v. 12), including many believers who will be martyred (v. 11).  How that takes place is not explained until chapter 13, where the readers finds out that it is the beast, the false prophet and the earth-dwellers who carry out Satan’s bidding.

Again, in Revelation 16 (I’), the wording “earth-dwellers” is not used at all.  However, the concept is very much present, from the beginning to the end–and that should not surprise us.  You see, the bowls of wrath are the last, and strongest, series of Divine judgments.

From the beginning of the chapter forward, here are the ways wording related to “the earth-dwellers” are expressed:

– those “who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image” (v. 2), which wording had been shown to be referring to the non-elect in the context of 13:8.

– those who shed the “blood of the saints and prophets” (vv. 6-7), which is the stated reason for the guilt of “the earth-dwellers,” according to 6:9-10.

– those who blaspheme and refuse to repent (16:9, 11)–as opposed to those who fear God and glorify Him, as the eternal gospel (14:6-7) proclaims.

– Babylon the Great (16:17-21)–this is the beginning of a lengthy section (running through the early part of ch. 19) in which it becomes abundantly clear that Babylon the Great is guilty of, and being punished for, the crimes against the martyrs of which 6:9-10 so eloquently speaks.

It is in 12:12 (I) where “the heaven-dwellers” are first clearly introduced in the Book of Revelation: “O heavens, and you who dwell in them” (HCSB).  But, the overcoming martyrs in 12:11 and the Jewish “woman” (see 12:6) being protected from the Devil by the Lord (12:13ff.) are also related to “the heaven-dwellers.”

In I’ (ch. 16), there are two indirect references to “the heaven-dwellers”: 1) “the blood of the saints and the prophets” (16:6) speaks of the martyrs whose destinies are heavenly; and 2) “someone from the altar” in 16:7 almost surely refers to a voice of one of the martyrs under the altar in 6:9-10.

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